The purpose of this session is to get a sense from the entire Bible of who the Holy Spirit is and what He does; to discover the Person and purpose of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we can isolate the Holy Spirit to a few passages of scripture. When we do that it’s like thinking of Patrick Stewart only as Captain Picard from Star Trek. While that might be your favorite roles, he’s done so much more over his career. Knowing the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament is like knowing about Patrick Stewart in movies like Excalibur and Dune (from the 1980s). Knowing the Holy Spirit in the New Testament is like knowing Patrick Stewart as Picard, Professor X, and perhaps Poop from The Emoji Movie; the same guy, just much more familiar. Our favorite pictures of and passages about the Holy Spirit might be Acts 2, or powerful gifts of healing and speaking in tongues, but there is so much more to Him than that. We are going to survey the Bible to get the bigger picture of who the Holy Spirit is and what He does.
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The Old Testament
In the Old Testament, which was written in Hebrew, the word for “spirit” is ruah (Strong’s H7307), which you have to pronounce with a little phlegm at the end. At its base it refers to air that is moving; specifically, wind or breath.
- As devastating as wildfires are, the more wind the more “life” the fire has.
- Wind helps life in the ocean to thrive by helping to oxygenate the water.
- Wind stirs things up, it moves things around like pollen and seeds for plants.
- Humans and other land animals have to breath. Where there is no breath there is no life. Breathing is a sign of life.
It is this word that is used to refer to the spirit of an animal, a person, and God Himself. It is that intangible yet very real life force, or energy, or whatever it is that is a part of what makes a living being.
When it comes to God it is referred to as the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit In Our Creation
Genesis 1:1-3. “Hovering.” Deuteronomy 32:11 “As an eagle stirs up its nest, Hovers over its young, Spreading out its wings, taking them up, Carrying them on its wings,”
Protecting, warming, watching over. Have you ever known someone that hovered over you? A parent? A teacher? A boss? In the best possible sense that’s kind of what was happening here.
The Holy Spirit is a protector, He watches over, He is a provider.
The Holy Spirit In Our Identity
In Genesis 12 we are introduced to a man named Abram and his wife Sarai. As I mentioned in the “Old Testament from 30k Feet” Genesis is largely about zooming in on one particular family line through which would come the Messiah, Jesus. From Adam, then Noah, on to Abram. You might be more familiar with him by the name of Abraham. Eventually, he has a son named Isaac who then has a son named Jacob whose name is changed to Israel.
In Genesis 17:5 and 15, Abram and Sarai are renamed Abraham and Sarah, or Sarahi. The reason that God changes their names is that He is reinforcing His calling on them and covenant with them.
What’s the difference in the name? Even in English, it’s pretty evident; it’s the letter “H.” This is starting to sound like Sesame Street. What sounds does the letter H make? In Hebrew it’s the letter “he” like saying the word “hey” with a little phlegm at the beginning but without the “y” at the end. It’s the last letter in ruah and is associated with God’s Spirit.
God changes the name, changes the identity of Abram and Sarai by putting His breath, His Spirit in them. God’s Spirit in us should have the same impact; it changes our identity, it changes who we are. Whatever people identified with us before God’s Spirit being in us should be different than after.
It’s a beautiful picture.
The Holy Spirit In Our Occupation
By “occupation” I don’t specifically or exclusively mean a person’s job. I’m referring to both what we do and how we do it. Think student, parent, employee, teacher, fireman, soldier, CEO, cashier, pastor, burger flipper, whatever. If the Holy Spirit was involved in creation (and He was), if He has changed our identity (and He has), then His power and influence should affect every area of our lives all the time.
I’m going to share a list I compiled but I’m not going to read the verses. They are listed with the blog post associated with this session. But I’m going to read the list and highlight a few of them along the way.
- He inspires people to speak God’s words to others. Num. 11:17, 25; 1 Sam. 10:6; 19:20.
- He can even speak through non-believers. Num. 24:2.
- David spoke by the power of the Spirit. 2 Sam. 23:2.
- David was afraid He would be taken away. Ps. 51:11.
- The Spirit gives people an understanding of things they would otherwise not understand. Job 32:8.
- At a future time from Joel, now past to us, God promised that the Spirit would be poured out on people in such a way that they would speak God’s word, as well as receive dreams and visions from Him. Joel 2:28.
- The Holy Spirit provides skills to artists and craftsmen, as well as the means to teach others those skills. Ex. 31:3; 35:31, 34.
- The Holy Spirit resuscitates the dead. Ezek. 37:5, 10; 39:29.
- God’s Spirit performs a kind of heart transplant in His people that gives them the desire to seek out and follow His ways. Ezek. 11:19; 36:26.
- God’s Spirit comforts and restores the broken-hearted. Ps. 34:18,19; Isa. 65:14
- We can rebel against and grieve Him. Psalm 106:33; Isa. 63:10, 11.
- The Spirit was with the Israelites as the returned from Babylonian and Medo-Persian captivity. Hag. 2:5; Zech. 4:6.
The Holy Spirit wants to communicate God’s word through His people into the lives of others. He equips people with skills to bring glory to God and provide an income. He does miracles on a physical and spiritual level. He is, for lack of a better term, a person against whom we can rebel and who we can grieve. He goes with us along the way out of our captivity into newness of life.
This is just a partial list of examples of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. Yet another reason we need to be students of the entire Bible; cover to cover.
Next session we will look at the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. For now,
What is something new that you learned about the Holy Spirit from this session?
Before God got His hands on you, by what did people identify you? (A nasty habit? Negative personality trait?) What about now? By what do people identify you? (A Godly habit? Transformed personality traits?)
What is your favorite Patrick Stewart role?
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